I'm going to bet a lot of money that this article gets the most hits on my blog. The current leader is “Lingerie low-down” (see a few posts below). Either all my facebook friends and twitter followers are underwear addicts, or maybe it’s because you couldn’t wait to read about my lingerie collection. Or maybe, just maybe, the word ‘lingerie’ made you think of sex. Sex may be a bit of a taboo subject but it’s certainly out there, scribbled across tabloids and neatly working itself into every television show known to man. And that’s not even mentioning page 3, or sex shops. Let’s put it this way: people don’t go shopping in Ann Summers just for the panties…in fact, one of my all-time favourite purchases was for a male friend of mine in that very shop. And it shall forever be known as “the willy whistle”. On the subject of whistles, a few months ago Flo Rida brought out a hit single entitled “Whistle”. As much as I’d love to believe that he’s talking about the sort of whistle you’d find attached to your life jacket when your Ryan Air flight to Barcelona miraculously lands head on into the Indian Ocean (satnav issues, ahem), I think it’s safe to say that we’ve hit euphemism city here. So you see my point. There’s really no hiding from it.
Now I’m not trying to be obscene. I’m just trying to work out what draws people to themes of a certain nature. Apparently sex sells. Well, that’s what Rihanna seemed to think when she released S&M. Can I not even exercise at the gym without being plagued by music videos filled with female dancers thrusting their body parts along to the lines “chains and whips excite me”? Apparently not. And what’s even worse is when you realise your 12 year old sister knows all the words. Backwards. Kids are taught from a young age that there’s clearly a lot more to sex than what you learn in GCSE Biology. Films certified as 15 are now being watched by 9 year olds. But covering a child’s eyes with a pillow isn’t going to blank out the noise.
There’s something innately human about clicking on a link which looks a little dirty. Is it because we feel that little bit guilty and know we shouldn’t, or is it because of an unprecedented urge to know as much as possible about sex? After all, who wants to read articles about the weather? Topics like fashion and cars only appeal to a certain palette while sex is a global phenomenon (much like Harry Potter) which you don’t even have to partake in to be aware of. Ok, that was a bit cheeky comparing sex to Harry Potter when we both know they’re entirely different. But in the words of Jane Austen, it’s a truth universally acknowledged that sex is great. *I may have just misquoted. Well that’s what we’re taught to believe, right?
Cuisines change from country to country, along with fashions, education and religion. But kids are only made one way. Maybe the French fornicate differently from the English, but they’re obviously doing something similar if they’re both pumping out litters and making baby showers. I mean…I haven’t read much around the subject, but I don’t tend to hear stories about English girls ending up in Australia and having the shock of a life-time when they find out that they do it upside down. It may be nicknamed “the outback” but I think we can safely assume that the Ozzies do it up front too. Sorry to be crass.
At lunch yesterday with my grandparents, the book “Fifty Shades of Grey” came up in conversation. I’ve been told that the book is “highly pornographic” and “badly written”. I can’t work out whether this makes me want to read it or not. This new adult genre (known simply as “literotica”) is starting to become the genre of the decade. People want to read about sex. They want to compare it, be repulsed by it, be amused by it, and learn from it. But you want to know the hypocrisy of it all? They can’t stand the idea of other people knowing they’re reading it. Literotica’s rise in sales can be linked to two things: Kindles and the basic need to touch what is off-limits. The feminist writer Marina Warner considers the popularity of erotic fiction to be a signal of the struggle to feel aroused in a time when sex and nudity have become so commonplace. “There has been a general unveiling of the body in our culture and there is a connection between prohibition and arousal,” she said. Who wants unlimited amounts of vanilla ice-cream when there’s one last scoop of honeycomb? Gone are the days of hiding porn mags under your bed and tightly gripping explicit book covers to hide them from your peers. Download them onto your Kindle and the people around you are none the wiser. The NY Times even reported that Ann Summers has seen a huge increase in the sale of blindfolds, whips and handcuffs, reflecting the strong sadism and masochism theme running through the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy. There’s no point denying erotic literature’s escalating fame. With a 130% increase in sales, the figure says it all.
I for one will admit hand on heart that I have never watched (or read for that matter) porn. In fact, I’m exactly the sort of person who you’d hate to play the drinking game “Never have I ever” with. One of my girlfriends was so unsatisfied with my naivety in this area that she was adamant that we spend the evening watching it on the flat screen. I politely declined. I’ll admit however that my much-loved Sex and the City is definitely bordering on pornographic. Using neck massagers as vibrators? Who would have thought?
All in all, how much is sex shaped by what we watch on our screens or read in books? Do we over consume the notion of being sexually complete, sexually compatible or sexually accurate? It seems nowadays that “sex” has been so overly sexualised that it’s fundamentally become a subgenre of its former self.